Netflix? Never Heard of ‘Em! It’s Qwikster Now! UPDATE

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Reed Hastings: Image Courtesy of Netflix

To all appearances, Netflix has realized that it may have made a mistake: Adding a hefty increase in the prices associated with existing packages without improving service offerings didn’t work out so well. Telling customers that the price hike was actually a great deal because the service had previously been priced too cheaply didn’t win over customers either. Now Netflix is trying something a little different… Changing their name.

Changes to the Netflix Service

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings sent out an email to subscribers with a personal message today.

“… In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”. We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery. We will keep the name “Netflix” for streaming. Qwikster will be the same website and DVD service that everyone is used to. It is just a new name…”

Netflix has been taking heat for a recent change to service which increased costs dramatically without offering any additional services to members. The member message references the change as well:

“It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology…”

Netflix Technology: Suggestions for You

One of the more useful services provided by Netflix is the “Suggestions for You” option. How do services like Netflix and TiVo figure out what movies and TV shows you will like? It’s a little complicated, but basically it works like this:

Netflix keeps track of every movie and television show that you have ever watched or rated. It also keeps track of every movie and TV show every other member has ever watched or rated. Their system compares your viewing history with that of other users, and finds users with similar tastes. It then assumes that if you both liked Movie A and Movie B, and the other user likes Movie C, you will probably also enjoy Movie C. The more movies you rate, the better the system will know your tastes, and the better suggestions you’ll get.

Netflix Streaming or DVD

As long as streaming (from a variety of sources) becomes more popular, and physical DVDs become the new dinosaurs of media (move over, VHS) Netflix will remain in a state of flux.

UPDATE: As of October 10, 2011, Neflix has reversed direction once more. In an email to customers, they state, in part:

“It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs.

This means no change: one website, one account, one password…in other words, no Qwikster.”

Will DVDs still be around 5 years from now? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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